Seventeen-year-old Emma is a foster kid who has always longed for a real family. When she discovers that she may have a twin, she leaves her temporary home in Las Vegas to her twin, Sutton’s, home in Arizona. But when she arrives in Tucson, it appears that Sutton has actually been killed within the last day or two – and nobody in Sutton’s life seems to know this fact yet. So Emma begins to live as Sutton, trying desperately to figure out what happened to the sister she’s never met.
I really enjoy the TV show Pretty Little Liars (based upon the books by Sara Shepard, although I haven’t actually read the books), and I read and enjoyed Shepard’s only adult novel, The Visibles [my review], so when I saw The Lying Game on NetGalley I jumped at the chance to read it. I’m glad I did because this is an incredibly engaging young adult novel with a fun mystery aspect that really kept me guessing.
One thing that took me a little while to get used to was the fact that Sutton, the dead twin, is the narrator in this story. Sutton sort of knows about what happened to her, but her memories are really fuzzy – so with each new piece of information that Emma learns, Sutton has sort of an “ah-ha” moment about her own life. It’s an interesting way to tell the story, and although it threw me off at first, I came to like the way Shepard did things.
Emma is a great character, she has had to rely on herself for most of her life as she bounced around between different foster homes, so when she finds herself in the middle of Sutton’s life she is able to play along and fit right in. She is used to being a chameleon, to going with the flow, and she has the strength and courage to investigate what really happened to her twin while also pretending to be Sutton. I really admired Emma’s resourcefulness in her covert investigations, and I loved how she started to feel close to Sutton’s family and friends so quickly – she wished so badly that she would have been given the opportunity to have a life like Sutton’s for real. Sutton was more of an interesting character for me. It’s clear from what Emma experiences that Sutton was a “mean girl”, but as Sutton doesn’t remember much about her life it’s easy for the reader to forget what she was like when she was alive. Her voice is well-drawn by Shepard and, this is so weird, but I kept wanting her to suddenly be alive. Like, “just kidding Emma, I’m not really dead, we can be the sisters we were always meant to be” – obviously that didn’t happen. But still – it shows how I enjoyed these characters!
The mystery aspect of The Lying Game is crafted well – I was just as intrigued as Emma about what really happened to Sutton. I like that this is a series so not a whole lot was resolved in this first book. Enough was resolved to make me not angry with the author, but also to make me want to pick up the second book. A perfect way to begin a series, if you ask me!
I really enjoyed The Lying Game. It is the ideal book for readers looking for a fun, mysterious young adult read that kicks off what I think will be a fantastic series!